By James T. McKenna | October 9, 2017
The U.S. Army and GE Aviation have completed the first full-level testing of the company’s powerplant design under the Future Affordable Turbine Engine (FATE) initiative to develop a 5,000- to 10,000-shaft-horsepower turboshaft, the engine maker said.
At the opening of the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual convention in Washington, GE said the engine-level test, which began last October, followed successful completion of compressor, combustor and turbine rig tests under that initiative.
GE in 2011 was awarded a $45 million FATE cost-share program to design a new turboshaft that demonstrates technologies applicable to existing aircraft and future rotorcraft requirements, such as the Pentagon’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program. The effort is aimed at producing a powerplant with a 35% reduction in specific fuel consumption, 80% improvement in power-to-weight, 20% improvement in design life and 45% reduction in production and maintenance costs compared to currently fielded engines.
“We’re thrilled with the results from the first FATE full engine test, which completed all primary objectives with more than 40 hours of run time and nearly 1,000 steady-state and transient data points,” said Harry Nahatis, VP and general manager of GE Aviation’s Turboshaft Engine Department.
Calling the design “the most advanced turboshaft development engine GE has tested in our history,” Nahatis said it makes wide use of commercially developed technologies, including extensive application of ceramic matrix composites in the combustion module (with such composites in the combustion dome and liners “allowing for unprecedented high-temperature capability and weight reduction”). He said the compressor rig recorded the highest single-spool compressor pressure ratio in GE Aviation’s history.
Nahatis added that the design’s turbine rig was built using additive manufacturing techniques for faster construction and lower development costs and that GE’s design “demonstrated advanced controls technologies, sensor suite and algorithms for improved aircraft performance and sustainment needs. These controls advancements are key components of next-generation control architectures.”
The second full engine will begin testing early next year, Nahatis said.
In addition to powering FVL aircraft, technologies developed under FATE could be incorporated into new engines, including GE’s T901 candidate for the Army’s Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP) program, and used to upgrade existing engines, such as the T700 and T408.
“Between the T408, T901 and FATE programs, we have a unique multigenerational product plan that shares technologies across our military rotorcraft efforts,” said Tony Mathis, president of GE Aviation’s Military Systems Operation. That plan “incorporates commercial engine technologies and fuses them together in a low-risk manner to drive high-performance and affordable engines applicable to both military and commercial aircraft.”
GE is competing with the Advanced Turbine Engine Company joint venture of Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney on the ITEP effort to develop a new, more efficient 3,000-shaft-horsepower engine for Boeing AH-64s and Sikorsky UH-60s.